This is not about piling on Bentley. This is about rebuking his staff, his friends, his fans, and his defenders. You got the hero you deserved. You traded the truth for a lie, you cashed in the all-surpassing worth of Jesus for an unrepentant lying adulterer and his lame magic show, and you didn't flinch when the evangelical world warned you it was gonna be a disaster.
I thought I would try and bluntly point out the problems charismatic Christianity is dealing with. It turns out Dan Edelen did it first, and he's a lot smarter and more experienced than me.
I know many who were turned on by Lakeland and its kin. A lot of them are dear to me, and I believe they have great potential. The charismatic church and a few of the Biblical doctrines and teachers played a vital role at one point in my life. But many are rapidly falling into a pit of their own making. The damage that has been done, and potentially will be done, is incalculable. I have seethed in silence many times among these people for their lack of the Gospel.
Where did you go wrong? The answer is very simple- you abandoned Jesus.
There are a million things in a Jesus-follower's life that can end up taking priority over Jesus. Here are a few things that you as a charismatic should be skeptical of:
- Supernatural experiences
- Long, loud prayers and the people who pray them, especially when substance is scarce
- Your image as one who is "not religious"
- The latest ministry or outpouring of the Spirit
- Worship music and preaching that ignore Christ and the Gospel
- Behaviors that are expected from worshippers
- Instantaneous results
- Dubious "heaven-moving" prayers and the theology that there is automatically some divine, invisible transaction going on, or anointing being released because you're praying in a loud, specially worded manner.
- Anointings. What? do we live in the OT still? Jesus is anointed.
- Excitement that "God is doing something." Especially when accompanied by total lack of determination to love, bear a cross, or do anything productive with your own two hands.
- Attendance at a church because "that's where the action is." Please, have you read the NT?
- Obscure Old Testament Bible references that are dug up and applied to life in some new, formerly secret way. Big baddie. Run for the hills.
- Numbers, numerology, hidden codes in history or the Bible. They're useless. Stop.
- Fear of the demonic. If you're inventing elaborate schemes to ward off demons, you're afraid of them, and if you're afraid of them, you don't fear God. If, and only if, you think it has power over you, then it does. (Harry Potter anyone?)
- Discovering your spiritual gift or ministry calling. Who cares? Love people the way you know how.
- What everyone else is saying. They're usually wrong, so just take it with a grain of salt.
- A feeling in your spirit. You don't feel anything in your spirit, you feel with your senses. It may or may not be the result of the Holy Spirit. Discern please.(I've actually heard of people that claim minor-key music is demonic because it's too eerie)
- 1 Cor 12 without 1 Cor 13. Or other passages that refer to the gifts of the Spirit. They don't really matter. Did you read the next chapter? Love matters.
- Fear of legalism. If you're worried about being legalistic, you should do something perceived as legalistic(you heard me) so that other people will think you're legalistic, and you will begin to care less about their opinions.
- Release from sin or bondage instantaneously. If it happens, it happens, but there is no silver bullet. Sanctification by grace is the most important process you will undergo. Read about it. There's no other way, and it takes your whole life.
I think the whole issue can be summed up in one simple word: JESUS. You forgot about him, and now you're paying the price. Every bullet point above speaks to a lack of knowledge of the real Jesus. There is nothing in the Bible that is not about Jesus. There is nothing the Spirit does in your life that is not about Jesus. Legitimate ministries, prophets, and outpourings exist to lift up Jesus.
Some people who are part of this movement are going to say "Oops, our image is tarnished, let's mouth an apology and then set someone else up in place to be worshipped and purvey the same old spiritual junk-food. That way the money will keep coming in and we'll get to continue to retain our high profiles in ministry." There are statements flying around the charismato-sphere like "this doesn't mean the healings weren't real," and apologetic statements that ask for grace for the Bentleys, and then spotlight on the great things that his ministry is doing, or how we can be sure that God will use this, or that this is a time to pray and not criticize...
Rather, the response from people like God TV, the "apostles," ministries, and pastors who introduced this insanity to their sheep should be something like "We've been appallingly wrong for a long time about what really matters and about how Jesus manifests himself in the lives of his followers." Followed by a commitment to leave the spotlight for a long time and undergo a long restoration of Biblical faith in their individual lives.
Who is willing to undergo a deep, cleansing conviction that they have largely failed Jesus(and the Holy Spirit for that matter), the narrow Way he inaugurated, the Church he is building, and reprove others for the same? Maybe this disaster will cause deep-seated questioning in you about many of your underlying assumptions concerning the supremacy of Christ, the Way you are conformed to His image, the trustworthiness of subjective experiences, the purpose of healing and the supernatural, and the identity of the Holy Spirit. Your credibility is rapidly failing(a good thing).
I was taught in my charismatic experience to say "God doesn't use perfect people" and that people with moral failures can still move in the supernatural. The temptation to take this attitude will be strong and it will be saddening to have to reject a whole slew of real or imagined miracles, but the fact is that the real Church can and will reject a person's authority, teaching, healing gift, even entire ministries, when they abandon the Gospel and the real Jesus Christ.
More articles on the subject:Northwest Musings